Forget ‘Grandma’ And ‘Grandpa’ – These Are The Most Popular Names Kids Call Grandparents

When kids are in charge of naming their family members, cuteness ensues.
Marcia Kester Doyle, or "Nonni," with her grandchildren.
Marcia Kester Doyle
Marcia Kester Doyle, or "Nonni," with her grandchildren.

When Marcia Kester Doyle unexpectedly became a grandparent at the age of 52, she “was not thrilled,” she told HuffPost.

“In fact, I was terrified because it made me feel old,” Kester Doyle said.

But this feeling quickly dissipated upon the arrival of her granddaughter.

“I realised how fortunate I was to be a grandmother while I was still fairly young – more time to watch my grandbabies grow up!”

Kester Doyle, now 64, has three grandchildren and another on the way. “I cherish the role,” she said.

However, becoming a grandparent didn’t mean adopting the traditional moniker. To Kester Doyle’s grandkids, she is “Nonni.”

“My daughter came up with the name. I’ve never cared for the name ‘grandma’ because it just sounds so... old. Visions of elderly grandmothers in rocking chairs come to mind – knitting blankets, baking bread and wearing orthopaedic shoes to shuffle around the house.”

Her own mother was “Nana” to Kester Doyle’s children, so that option was taken.

“‘Nonni’ just felt right, and the grandkids love it,” she said.

Alternate names for grandparents solve a logistical problem. Most kids have two sets of grandparents – some even have more – and names can help differentiate relatives from one another.

My own kids, for example, who are visually oriented, went with “Brown-haired Grandma” and “White-haired Grandma,” saving us all the bother of asking “Which one?” whenever a grandmother was mentioned.

While there are lots of names families use to indicate grandparent status among their members, a recent survey by Preply, a service that matches people with language tutors, found that some names are used more often than others. Many of these names have two syllables with a repeating sound, echoing classic baby first words “mama” and “dada.”

The survey results show that the most common alternative names for grandmothers in the U.S. are:

  1. Gigi
  2. Nana
  3. Mimi
  4. Gran
  5. Bibi
  6. Momo

For grandfathers, the most-used alternative names are:

  1. Poppy
  2. Pops
  3. Papi
  4. G-Pa
  5. Grandude
  6. Papa

The survey also looked at the top names in each state (excluding “Grandma” and “Grandpa”), revealing regional variations. “Mamaw” was a top choice for grandmothers in Alabama, Indiana, Ohio and Wisconsin, while “Pop-Pop” for grandfather was most common in Pennsylvania, Maryland, North Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin and Minnesota. “Abuelo” (Spanish for grandfather) and “Abuela” (Spanish for grandmother) were the most popular in states with large Spanish-speaking populations, including Florida and California.

“From our perspective, it sounds like today’s grandparents don’t want to be seen as ‘old people,’ but rather as active, productive citizens who play a critical role in the lives of their grandchildren,” Sylvia Johnson, head of methodology at Preply, told HuffPost.

We asked members of the HuffPost Facebook community what names they use for the grandparents in their families. Their responses below highlight how often it is grandchildren who end up naming their grandparents.

“My daughter called my dad Pop Pop and calls my mom Buela (short for Abuela). Pop Pop because my daughter could not say Grandpa when she was smaller and would say Pa – that of course turned into Pop Pop. Buela because Grandma was a bit hard for my daughter to say, and using Buela was easier for her.” —Evelyn Reagan, Texas

“I am May and my husband is Pea. The names came from my daughter calling us Gammy and Gampy, but May and Pea stuck.” —Amy Stegen

“My grandkids call me TuTu and my husband TuTu Jeff. My husband Is Hawaiian, and TuTu is Hawaiian for grandparents.” —Angelia L Mason, Virginia

“My daughter constantly heard my mother-in-law call my father-in-law Honey (as in, ‘Honey, please pass the butter’), so that’s what my daughter calls her grandfather!” —Kate Forsha, Maryland

“My son invented Aba for my mother (from Abuelita), and it inspired us to refer to my deceased father as Abo.” —Naomi Raquel, New York

“My daughter calls her maternal grandfather Papa Cupcake. He has the biggest sweet tooth and gives her treats.” —Becky Turner, California

GreGre and her granddaughter.
Paige Abramson Hirsch
GreGre and her granddaughter.

“My mom wanted to be Grammy, but my son (her first grandchild) couldn’t pronounce it and instead called her GreGre. That’s what she is to her four grandchildren, and she’s still the only GreGre we’ve ever met!” —Paige Abramson Hirsch, California

“My girls call my mother Monkey. My oldest started it. Her third word was ‘Gamma,’ which my mom didn’t care for, but accepted since she said it so early. A couple months later she randomly started calling her Monkey, and the name has stuck. My daughters are 6 and almost 10, and every year I have to explain to teachers, club leaders, and after-school staff that we don’t actually have a pet monkey.” —Krystal Donnelly, Tennessee

Diana "Monkey" Steelman (left) with her daughter and grandchildren.
Krystal Donnelly
Diana "Monkey" Steelman (left) with her daughter and grandchildren.

“My daughter calls my mom Bop because, as a toddler, she couldn’t pronounce Babchi, the Polish word for Grandma. I’ve never heard of another Bop, and she’s certainly one of a kind and incredible!” —Laura Kole Simmons, Ohio

“I live in Washington, D.C., but I am originally from South Carolina. My kids call my dad Granddaddy, which is not unusual in South Carolina. I called my own paternal grandfather Granddaddy. However, it is unusual in D.C., and both of my kids are proud to be the ‘only ones’ with a Granddaddy.” —Amanda Potts Ruthven

"Granddaddy" with his grandchildren.
Amanda Ruthven
"Granddaddy" with his grandchildren.

“My son started calling his maternal grandmother Shark at about a year old during the height of the ‘Baby Shark’ popularity. It stuck, and now he and his brother both refer to her as Sharkie.” —April Upshaw, Arizona

“My oldest son called my mom Grandma Boo Boo. One of his first memories of her was after she sustained an injury and had a wrap around her forehead.” —Jillian Kalbaugh

“Maternal grands are Grandma and Grandpere. My dad often wears a sport coat, and so does Daniel Tiger’s Grandpere — so my dad donned that name!” —Jennifer Buchanan, Arizona

“My granddaughter calls me Duckie. My dad called his favorite grandmother Duckie, and since it was a family name and I also wanted to be the favorite, I figured I’d increase my chances by having my granddaughter call me Duckie, too.” —Susan Cody Call

“My mother is Granny-Mom because I kept saying, ‘Granny, I mean Mom.’ My partner is a stepparent, their parents are called Farmor and FarFar, which is Swedish for ‘father’s mother’ and ‘father’s father.’” —Adrienne Anderson, Ohio

“My kids call their grandma Abby (short for Abuelita).” —Melanie Jaque, New Jersey

“My parents are Mimi and Geezer. Mimi because she didn’t feel like Grandma or any other variation fit. Geezer because it was a nickname growing up and went well with Mimi!” —Andrea Schulken, California

“Mamani and Baba. Those were chosen because my father-in-law is Persian. We live in the greater Seattle area. My kids love that it’s different than most grandma and grandpas and that they get an open opportunity to explain their heritage.” —Lindsay Kulp Kamal

“All the grandkids call my dad Wawa. He meant to be Granddad, but my eldest couldn’t say that, so Wawa it was… and now is for all of them!” —Julie Butler, Bermuda

“My name is Rainelle and my grandson calls me RaiRei, which he coined at age 2. I was supposed to be Rainey, but he came up with his own version!” —Rainelle Mishoe, North Carolina

“My kids call my mom Bluema. It all started when my son was about 3 and noticed that my grandma, his great-grandma, often wore head-to-toe blue outfits. He differentiated between my mom, his grandma, and my grandma, whom he referred to as Blue Grandma. Years later, when our daughter was around 2, she heard us saying Blue Grandma and just assumed it was my mom. She couldn’t say it all so started just saying Bluema. Now both my kids refer to my mom as Bluema, and she even has it as her license plate now! And my grandma is still Blue Grandma to my son.” —Erin Rusling, Texas

“I am Lolli, my husband is Papa (Pop for short).” —Nancy Benoit, Vermont

“My kids call my mom Gaga (pronounced ‘guh-guh’) because when my oldest was trying to say Grandma, I said, ‘That’s grandma, guh-guh-grandma,’ and just the ‘guh-guh’ stuck.” —Brittany Huddleston, Illinois

“My 18-year-old daughter was the first grandchild, and she attempted to say Grampa and it came out Dopa. He’s been called that ever since by every grandchild. He remarried when the grandkids were all little, and his wife’s name is Lee. We collectively started calling her the kid’s Leema, and it stuck: Dopa and Leema.”—James RF, Michigan

Responses have been lightly edited for style, length and clarity.